Meaning of “Sex On Fire” by Kings Of Leon

This song has a number of different origin stories. What is obvious is that it is indeed about intimacy. And for the most part, it would appear that the singer enjoys such with his partner very much. So the general implication is that the “fire” mentioned in the title would allude to “hot” intimate affair.  And according to Caleb Followill, who sings and is the main writer of the track, such is definitely the case.

However, it has also been postulated that the song is about that transmission of STDs, due to the Kings of Leon actually joking about such. Indeed ‘getting burned’ is a common expression used when a male contracts an STD (particularly  gonorrhea) from a female. So some can definitely interpret terminology such “hot as a fever, rattle of bones” as an allusion of such.

It has also been put forth that when the track was originally conceived it was not about intimacy at all, and another theory states that it was based on Caleb’s girlfriend Lily Aldridge (who he ultimately married in 2011). But Followill himself stated that the latter is not the case. He implied that he did not write it about any woman in particular.

But despite the somewhat-convoluted history of this song, what it ultimately boils down to that it is about intimacy. And the singer for the most part seems to be enjoying or at least is taking pleasure in making his partner enjoy it.

Lyrics of "Sex On Fire"

Facts about “Sex on Fire”

  • This song was originally entitled “Set Us on Fire”. According to Kings of Leon band member Nathan Followill, the song had nothing to do with sex.
  • As of September 2009, the song held the distinction of being the second-most downloaded song ever in the United Kingdom.
  • “Sex on Fire” received two nominations at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards (2009) – Best Rock Song and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, of which it won the latter.
  • Kings of Leon have expressed dissatisfaction on the way they were portrayed in the Sophie Miller-directed music video to this song.
  • Caleb Followill wrote the lyrics of this song while heavily under the influence of painkillers he was taking as the result of having shoulder surgery (due to a fight he had with his older brother and fellow King of Leon member, Nathan Followill).
  • He was also very-conscious about the explicit intimate nature of the lyrics and had to be coerced into doing this song.
  • “Sex on Fire” was produced by Kings’ of Leon longtime collaborator Angelo Petraglia (who worked on the entirety of Only by the Night, the album it is featured on) and Jacquire King.
  • It was released as by RCA Records and Sony Music on 4 September 2008.
  • The entire Kings’ of Leon clan (Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill) are credited with writing this song.
  • Sugarland covered this song on their 2009 album Live on the Inside. On 22 August of that year, it and “Only by the Night” were both within the top 10 of the Billboard 200, meaning that two different renditions of “Sex on Fire” were in the top 10 simultaneously, which is a rare occurrence.

Chart and Commercial Success

It held the distinction of topping the UK Singles Chart. It also reached number one in Australia, Finland, and Ireland. As for the Billboard Hot 100 in America, this track peaked at number 56.

“Sex on Fire” has sold phenomenally around the word. It achieved Quadruple-Platinum status in Australia and Triple-Platinum in the UK. It also went Platinum in numerous countries, including the United States, Denmark and Germany.

2 Responses

  1. Juanita Dale Slusher says:

    This song drives me insane! Certainly gets me thinking about the act . . .

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like to drive late at night with my windows wide open and this song blasted on high. It’s adrenaline, total sensuality, and adventure combined! Definitely a mood.

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